Prickly skin, a feeling that you're being watched or there's someone standing right behind (when there isn't) and a drop in temperature are all the hallmarks that you are in the presence of the "other side". In Miami there are certain places where you're more likely to have these encounters.
Horror movies set the expectation that paranormal experiences happen only in abandoned buildings covered in ivy and flanked by naked trees in the dead of winter. But ghosts don’t discriminate. They can also linger in the scorching heat and stifling humidity of Miami. Mysterious and ghastly deaths, suicides, and murders, ever popular in Magic City history, are rife with phantasmagorical potential.
Alfred I. duPont Building. One of the first skyscrapers in Miami, the Alfred I. duPont Building was constructed on the site of the demolished Hotel Halcyon from 1937 to 1939. On October 28, 2017 paranormal investigator Marlene Pellicer led a tour of the duPont, hosted by the Downtown Development Authority.
Because of its rich and long history, the duPont Building has plenty of stories to tell. In 1963, Grant Stockdale, a businessman and friend of President John F. Kennedy's, died after falling from the 13th floor ten days after JFK's assassination. Whether he jumped or was pushed still remains a mystery. He landed on machinery on the fifth floor.
A maintenance man and a cleaning lady have reported seeing a mysterious man and woman who vanish at a second glance. Some of the floors of the duPont are no longer used, but there have been reports of running faucets in bathrooms. In addition, a technician in a group of workers repairing the air-conditioning on the second floor said that when he opened a unit, he saw a badly burnt man’s face that soon disappeared. The men were so spooked they wrote an incident report.
2. The Biltmore Hotel. In its heyday, The Biltmore played host to royalty, both Europe's and Hollywood's. The hotel counted the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Ginger Rogers, Judy Garland, Bing Crosby, Al Capone and assorted Roosevelts and Vanderbilts as frequent guests. Fashion shows, gala balls, aquatic shows by the grand pool and weddings were de rigueur as were world class golf tournaments. A product of the Jazz Age, big bands entertained wealthy, well-traveled visitors to this American Riviera resort.
In the 1929, gangster Thomas “Fatty” Walsh was fatally shot at the Biltmore over a gambling dispute. Rumor is that his ghost haunts the hotel, especially the bar, where the glasses and bottles on the shelves have reportedly shaken mysteriously. Known as a man of indulgence who enjoyed Cuban cigars and women, Fatty is said to still wander the hotel and play tricks on staff and guests. His apparition has been seen on the 13th floor, where he was killed, and in bathroom mirrors throughout the hotel. The mysterious scent of cigar smoke, presumably a manifestation of Fatty, has been reported to follow attractive women around the Biltmore.
Paranormal investigators say Fatty is a cooperative and friendly spirit. But he might not be the only soul wandering the hotel's halls. A decade after Walsh’s murder, in the 1930s, eyewitnesses reported that a woman walking in front of the Biltmore mysteriously disappeared. More recently, members of the kitchen staff claimed to have seen mysteriously swinging doors and inexplicable noises. The next time you visit the Biltmore — for the hotel's annual Halloween party perhaps — pay attention to any mysterious smells, sounds, or movements: You might have attracted the attention of a gangster ghost!
But there could be other sources for the hauntings said to occur at the Biltmore. With the onset of World War II, The Biltmore was converted to a hospital by the War Department. It served the wounded as the Army Air Forces Regional Hospital. Many of the windows were sealed with concrete, and the marble floors covered with government issue linoleum. Also the early site of The University of Miami's School of Medicine, The Biltmore remained a VA hospital until 1968.
In 1973, through the Historic Monuments Act and Legacy of Parks program, the City of Coral Gables was granted ownership control of The Biltmore. Undecided as to the structure's future, The Biltmore remained unoccupied for almost 10 years. Then in 1983, the City oversaw its full restoration to be opened as a grand hotel. Almost four years and $55 million later, The Biltmore opened on December 31, 1987 as a first class hotel and resort. Over 600 guests turned out to honor the historic Biltmore at a black tie affair. Since before it's restoration in 1983, the Biltmore Hotel has been known for being haunted, unexplained noises on the 13th floor, a ghostly girl out on the golf course, and restless spirits from its time as a VA hospital, are but only a few of the ghostly stories associated with it.
3. The Deering Estate. The sprawling 444-acre Deering Estate is a hotbed of paranormal activity, experts say. There are paths here walked by Native Americans and Charles Deering, the estate’s owner, who died onsite in 1925. During one visit, a psychic said she heard the voice of a woman begging for help to save the life of a drowning child.
The estate preserves the 1920s-era home built for Deering, a Chicago industrialist and the first chairman of the International Harvester Company. Inside the basement he had a walk-in, bank-style vault hidden behind a bookcase door, and of course he left it out of the house's blueprints. They once housed thousands of illegal wine bottles. Remember these were the years of Prohibition when Capone lived on a Miami Beach island.
Humans inhabited this area for thousands of years, starting with Paleo-Indians. The Cutler Fossil Site contains fossilized human remains dating back 10,000 years, while the Cutler Burial Mound contains 12 to 18 Native American women and children buried face-down in a spiral pattern.
On the grounds is the Richmond Cottage built in 1896 and which served as an inn. This structure is believed to also be haunted. It is said there are 10 to 12 spirits in the buildings that regularly interact with visitors, while spirits of Native Americans watch from afar.
4. Miami City Cemetery. Founded in 1897, is the oldest and only municipal cemetery in Miami-Dade County. It originally encompassed 10.5 acres of pineland, situated 7 blocks north of the new city which took the moniker of the "Magic City".
Central Avenue ran east to west through the cemetery. Three-quarters of the cemetery was platted for white burials and remaining one-quarter on the western side was set aside for blacks, due to the segregation that existed during these years.
Plots sold anywhere from $10 to $15 dollar.
In 1896, Edwin Nelson had founded the city's first funeral service. In 1906, Walter Combs purchased it and established Combs Funeral Home, situated 3 blocks south of the eastern entrance to the cemetery.
In the early years, many parts of the cemetery was sectioned off according to religious beliefs and race.
In the northern half parishoners of the Gesu Catholic Church, known originally as the Church of the Holy Name purchased plots.
Members of Miami's first synagogue, Binai Zion, in 1915 bought lots at the rear of the graveyard and erected a wall around the plots.
Another section was left for indigents, and another for veterans that included burials from the Spanish-American War.
A Confederate Memorial Circle contains the tombs of 20 Civil War veterans, and others are buried through the graveyard. A two-story monument that originally stood in front of the old county courthouse was partially destroyed in the 1926 hurricane. What was left of it was brought to the cemetery to mark area of the where the Confederate soldiers were buried.
A young Englishman named Henry Branscombe was the cemetery's first burial. He was only in mid-20s when he died to tuberculosis. Since this first interment, there have been 9,000 others throughout the years.
Many of Miami's first leaders and founders were buried here. Jack Tigertail a Miccousukee chieftain, who was shot to death in a dispute in 1922 is interred there.
The body of Julia Tuttle, the “Mother of Miami,” is interred at this cemetery. The bodies of the founder of the Burdines department store chain and Miami’s first and third mayors also rest here. Though any graveyard can be creepy, Miami City Cemetery has one especially strange grave, that of Carrie Barrett Miller. After her death, Miller’s husband placed her body in the grave and poured concrete over her. The tombstone reads, “The body of Carrie Barrett Miller was moulded in this solid block of concrete. December 4th 1926. After the body has gone to dust, her sleeping form will remain.”
During the 1950s, only burials from those who had already purchased a plot was allowed since it had reached capacity.
The ghosts of Julia Tuttle and Isabella Peacock are said to haunt the area.
A carved-out heart of an animal was found at the base of a tree as a Santería sacrifice. There have been other reports of vandalism and grave robbery specifically taking bones from coffins in connection with Palo Mayombe, an Afro-Caribbean religion.
5. Villa Paula. Villa Paula was Miami’s first Cuban consulate for Consul Domingo J. Milford. The villa, located in Little Haiti and built in 1926 in a neoclassical style, has ten bedrooms and 18-foot ceilings. The villa currently functions as an art gallery and exhibition space. However, in addition to being known for its beautiful design, the mansion has been rumored to be among the most haunted places in Miami.
The house was named for Milford’s wife Paula, who allegedly died at a young age from complications after a leg amputation. Paula’s ghost, appearing as a one-legged woman with black hair, has been seen wandering the halls. A former owner has said he often smelled brewing coffee and fresh roses when there were none to be seen. Paula reportedly liked keeping a vase of roses in the house.
One man said he had some bizarre experiences while he lived at Villa Paula. Once, he said, a friend came to visit and fell asleep. Upon waking from her nap, she was possessed by the spirit of Paula and talked to him about her life.
6. Pinewood Cemetery. Located in Coral Gables, Pinewood is the oldest cemetery south of the Miami River. The last known burial in the cemetery was in the 1940s, after which the site became overgrown and vandalized. Buried here is the body of Mrs. Dora Suggs, who was violently killed when she was 29 years old. According to a 1905 St. Lucia Tribune article titled “Foul Murder Near Miami,” Suggs had been raped, choked, and mutilated, and her head had been crushed with a heavy object. She was found in the woods near a banana tree.
In March 1906, Ed Brown AKA Cady Brown was indicted for the murder. On June 5 he was executed by hanging for the crime. He confessed to the murder while standing on the gallows.
source - Miami New Times
Stranger Than Fiction Stories by Marlene Pardo Pellicer